Sunday, June 3, 2012

Grow More Raw

Growing some of your food is not just for the Budget Conscious. Whilst that is the deciding factor for some, for others it is a quest for ultimate freshness, a passion for gardening, a certainty of growing conditions or a satisfying hobby. Any combination may apply to you.

A good, basic place to start (even if you don't yet know if you have green fingers) is the humble sprout. These little power houses of energy are a very frugal main-stay of a raw menu, so it seems a 'know-how' will be of interest to a few of my Dear Readers. Here is my five-step plan for DIY* sprouts.

#1 Choose your sprout. Which one(s) do you like? Notice I said "which one(s) do you like" not what you think you should sprout. If you don't like it, then don't sprout it.

Please note: there are some seeds you must never sprout because of natural toxins. You can sprout green peas, chick peas (garbanzo), mung and adjuki beans but these are the only exceptions to the legume family. Grow the other legumes in your garden and enjoy their fruits but don't eat sprouted beans.

If you are a beginner and feeling unsure, check out the sprouted selection in the chilled produce area of your supermarket. Let that be your guide to help you choose until you are ready for other varieties.

#2 Buy your seeds. I realise that's a Captain Obvious statement, after all, you wouldn't steal them, would you? What I mean here is, be aware of what you buy. If you're buying from the bulk bins at your supermarket, be sure that they are not heat-treated (pasteurised). My local supermarket has these stickers plastered over the bins of seeds and nuts. Someone or somebodies must've complained loud and long enough for this to become practice. Bless them.

Heat-treated seeds will not grow. There is no life in them. Sow a field with pasteurised grain and there will be no harvest. I will leave you to ponder pasteurisation of other food stuffs and how this applies to you. Information is power but I'm not going there today.

Do not buy seeds intended for the garden. Often they have been treated with chemicals not intended for human consumption. You may buy garden seeds that have been organically raised. Check your packet carefully.

Seeds from a health shop should be good for sprouting but not necessarily so. Once I bought some red quinoa for sprouting but all I got was slimy and stinky glup. They were heat treated and only good for cooking (although their nutritional content would be compromised as heat denatures more than enzymes).

#3 Measure out a small quantity for sprouting, bearing in mind that seeds will double, sometimes triple in bulk, You don't want them taking over the kitchen. Pick over carefully to remove damaged and less-than-optimum looking seeds. Keep a look out for small stones; dentists are expensive. Rinse well.

#4 Sprout your seeds. Yay! The miracle starts.(See below for details instructions.) You can buy yourself a fancy-pants sprouting gadget or just use bowls, jars and sieves. My daughter loves her gadget and I am happy with my basic kitchen equipment.

#5  Eat your sprouts. You could call it enjoying your harvest! Fat of the land (kitchen). It's a good feeling to know that you are supplying real food all by yourself. Actually, I should be more humble: all I did was create the right conditions and nature did the rest. But I kind of like taking the credit.

The simpliest way to eat sprouts is to sprinkle a little or a lot on top of your salad or over your cooked food.

You can create a Protein Power Salad, a sprouted (and then dehydrated) muesli/granola or any amount of recipes for sprouted seeds, grains and nuts.

Sprouts are an easy and convenient fresh food. Whether in dry storage, sprouting on your kitchen bench or sprouted in your fridge they don't take up much room. They are rich in water, protein, amino acids, good fats (and so much more) all packed into a very small food package - amazing, really.

A note about lentils - choose green or brown. The orange lentils have been processed and are intended for cooking; they will not sprout.

*DIY: for my international readers, this means Do It Yourself.


- Soak small amount of seeds or grains in filtered water; overnight is good, especially for the larger ones otherwise a few hours is fine.
 - Rinse a couple of times, drain. You want them damp but not sitting in water.
 - Cover and keep on bench; colanders and sieves over bowl are good for this. Rinse morning and night - might need more over summer. Small seeds need a couple of days to grow ‘tails’ larger ones like chick peas and udzuki a day or so longer.
 - When grown how you like them, keep in fridge to slow growth. Don’t forget to rinse daily. Use in 3 - 4 days.
- Choose sprouting seeds from sources that are not heat-treated (pasteurisation kills enzymes) otherwise they will not sprout but rot instead L nb - soaking but no tails (yet) is still considered a ‘sprout’, that is, the enzymes have been activated.



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